Apple Requiring Union Training For Retail Managers


Apple Store at NYC's 5th Ave. (Photo by Phil Photostream -
Apple Store at NYC's 5th Ave. (Photo by Phil Photostream -

Cue up the Norma Rae theme music. Apple is about to go up against the unions. Well, not quite. The tech giant is starting mandatory training for retail store managers that includes the “legal do’s and don’t of dealing with unions.” The training comes as Apple marks the 10th anniversary of its retail stores, now numbering 357 worldwide.

The twice-a-year course will “provide managers with a practical understanding of how unions affect the workplace, how and why employees organize, and the legal do’s and don’ts of dealing with unions,” reads a document describing the training. Besides, it is a “great opportunity” for managers to meet Apple’s legal department. While chatting with the legal eagles sounds like such a giggle, the likely emphasis will be drilling into managers there is no need to unionize the stores.

One might think you would get a disagreement from the Apple Retail Workers Union, an effort that sprang to life earlier this year. However, the union’s website is rather empty, except for the quote, “At Apple, our most important resource, our soul, is our people.” It’s unclear how many retail employees are part of the union or what might be their grievances with Apple. An anonymous representative of the group in May told Macworld “some stores in the Pacific Northwest” were talking about unionizing over hiring and training practices.

How does this concern Apple operations overseas? Apple has commented on the issue by addressing its retailing growth in China. Finance Chief Peter Oppenheimer in October said 75 percent of the 40 stores planned in 2012 would be located outside the United States. Both could signal an uphill battle for unions trying to squeeze concessions from a company already focused on a non-union future.


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